Elise Easdown, Owner and Managing Director of What's On 4 Australia online directories
Elise Easdown, Owner and Managing Director of What's On 4 Australia online directories

Inspired to launch your own business in 2013? Practical Parenting spoke to Elise Easdown, mum of two and founder of directories site What's on 4 Australia, about how she began and the secrets to her success.

Q. When did your "lightbulb moment" to launch your business occur?

It was one day when I missed the start of baby swimming lessons because I didn’t know where to look for information. As a new mum, I wasn’t familiar with the world of playgroup and children’s activities and was disappointed when we missed a spot.

I started talking to other mums and teachers and discovered I wasn’t alone. They felt it was a great idea and wondered why it hadn’t been created before.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your business...

It's comprised of three online directories: What's on 4 Little Ones, What's on 4 School Kids and What's on 4 Kid's Parties, which launched in January 2011.

The websites are designed for busy parents who love doing activities with their children, love getting out and about with their families and love planning birthday parties. It’s a place to find all the details they need. We also have a wonderful community on Facebook.

The directories give our clients, who run the activities, events and services, a perfect place to reach their target market and make running their business so much easier. I operate the business from home around my family commitments, which means working really hard at times and often late at night. And I have a small team of who are mums working from home who also assist me.

Q. How much work was involved to get things off the ground?

A great deal of time went into research, website preparation and legals, in order to get everything right - such as the business structure. I think I saw more of my accountant than my husband for a period of time! As I was passionate about what I was doing and really motivated, I just accepted it was all part of it and just got it done.

Q. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

My biggest challenge by far was creating a business model that fitted with my ‘mummy model’. I didn’t want to lose track of the fact that my children were my inspiration for this career change and I wanted to stay true at being the mother I wanted to be - engaged, present and hands-on. Just recently I’ve reflected on that and realised that in order to run the business successfully, and be a mum, I sacrificed my own health to do it. I’m now outsourcing more of my business (such as the repetitive admin tasks) so that I can have some ‘me time’ back.

Q. What’s been the best marketing tool for your business?

Social media! It can also be a big time-waster, but I love staying connected to people and take a great deal of inspiration from others' experiences in business and parenting. We promote all our activities through Facebook with links back to the websites. Traffic from Facebook along with organic search are our biggest drivers of traffic to the sites.

Q: Your greatest achievement in business to date?

Last year was a good year for me in business and took me completely by surprise. I was nominated in two national Mumpreneur Awards - Practical Parenting Mumpreneur Awards and the Ausmumpreneur Awards and won both! Winning these awards was very validating and gave me the confidence to believe I was creating a winning business.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

The best part is being able to work from home and having flexibility. It removes so much stress from your life not having to worry about what to wear in the morning or having to worry about traffic. And most importantly, it allows me to get to all of the children’s special occasions.

Q. Tell us your plans for the future?

I’m looking to expand What’s On 4 further in Australia and offshore to New Zealand. I’m also looking at partnering and franchising opportunities.

Q. As a Mumpreneur, what qualities have really helped you to succeed?

I feel that becoming a mum made me realise how precious time was and how I needed to be efficient and accurate in very short periods of time, as that’s all you get sometimes. I thought I was organised before, but I have taken that to a whole new level now! I also love chatting and catching up with other women in business, which has helped me to grow my business. Some would call that networking but I found it to be a really natural thing to do.

Q. For any working mum, getting the work/life balance just right is always tricky. How do you manage this with two little ones?

For me it was about determining what things made me feel like a good mum; like being able to cook healthy meals for my children, going to the park together at least once a week, doing an organised activity 1-2 times a week such as playgroup, music classes or gymnastics, doing a home based craft activity once a week and reading books at night together. Once I had those sorted out, I coordinated my working hours around them and that is how I created my balance.

Q. What three things should mums consider before starting their own business?

1. Determine if it is going to work for your family, both financially and from a time perspective.
2. Start thinking about the branding of your business from the start, including the logo, style and colour scheme.
3. Ensure you have chosen a business that you are truly passionate about, then it won’t feel like work at all.

Q. Any final advice for budding Mumpreneurs?

Utilise all the support networks that are available to you, both online and face-to-face. There are plenty of free webinars that you can do in the evening, as well as networking groups that meet at child friendly venues.

Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Be kind to your body and soul and listen to your heart. Then you can’t go wrong.


Related: Mumpreneur 2013 - Terms and conditions of entry

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